Running My First 5K and Conquering My Fear of Grilling…

I have been so busy recently that I have been neglecting blogging and it makes me sad. But I wanted to do a quick catch-up of my life lately! I’ve been settling into my new apartment quite well; I love having my own space and a nice big kitchen of my own! I had a friend over on Sunday and we fired up my grill for the first time. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous to use this grill for the first time. It was left by the previous tenant, and while it looks pretty new, I had this fear that I would turn the gas on and light it and it would explode. I have lots of irrational fears like this. But I decided that I just needed to try it and it would all be fine. I told my friend I wanted to grill us some lunch, so we made some chicken and veggie skewers…so yummy. I brushed the chicken with pesto and it was delicious. Oh and the grill didn’t explode (of course it didn’t). Now I can’t wait to start grilling all sorts of things!

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I also ran my first 5K race on Saturday! It was the Narragansett Summer Running Festival, which was held at Stonehill. I signed up for it awhile ago because I wanted to challenge myself – I’ve never run a full 5K before, just a mud run (which is basically half running, half climbing and getting dirty). I generally despise running, but I wanted to push myself and I figured running around my alma mater would be a nice distraction from the actual running! Going into the race, I had only run about 2.5 miles outside, so I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to run the whole 3.2 miles. However, I found it to be a lot easier than I thought, and the pretty campus and a great playlist of tunes certainly helped. I ran it in about 36 minutes, so my timing was pretty good! I won’t say I love running now, but perhaps I could be swayed into running another 5K. I enjoyed the rest of the weekend staying on campus and pretending to be a college kid again!

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One of my best friends is getting married this weekend, so I have a busy week ahead of me, but I know it will be a blast! 🙂

Cookies and Cream Protein Shake!

Happy Friday everyone! I will be heading to Mohegan Sun this weekend for a friend’s 25th birthday…I’m excited to have some dinner, drinks, and fun with friends 🙂 Sometimes you need to splurge a little, and that’s ok! I used to get down on myself for eating an unhealthy meal out or not being able to hit the gym. But I’ve come to realize that you need to live your life and not let these things worry you (thanks to the AA Bikini Body program for further emphasizing that!) Just plan the rest of your week around it – go to the gym on the days you can, eat well during the week, make your own meals at home, and then enjoy a night out. We all deserve it!

Speaking of the AA Bikini Body program (which I raved about here), there is now a Facebook support group for anyone who is part of the program. I’m obsessed with it! Every day I go on and see tons of motivating posts, recipe ideas, and successes/struggles from real girls. I can ask questions or advice from others and even Amanda and Ander will respond, as well as post workout selfies like the rest of us! I just love it. I’m not saying that you need to buy a workout/nutrition program to see results, because I know you can do it all on your own. But I have to admit that having a workout guide to follow, a nutritionist and fitness expert on hand, and a boatload of motivated ladies only a click away helps me when I need motivation or advice. These girls are so POSITIVE and I love it (clearly)!

The other night I was having a serious sweet craving. I don’t even think I was hungry, but I wanted something. And it needed to be chocolatey and delicious. Clearly my first thought was “ice cream! cookies! candy!” but I somehow convinced myself to put my thinking cap on and come up with something delicious and chocolatey yet also semi-healthy. So a protein shake it is! I had bought these yummy chocolate grahams to eat with my Arctic Zero, so I decided to use them to make a cookies and cream shake. It took some taste-testing and tweaking but the end result was yummy! It made a big glass and was under 300 calories…success 🙂

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Cookies and Cream Protein Shake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup plain/vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (omit if you use vanilla yogurt)
  • 20 chocolate snack grahams (I like Horizon Organic)
  • 1/3 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein – Vanilla Ice Cream flavor)
  • 8-10 ice cubes

Directions:

1.) Add ice to a blender and top with the rest of the ingredients. Then just blend! Add more grahams or protein powder to taste, depending if you want it more cookies-and-cream-y or more vanilla-y. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info (Per shake, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 281
Fat 8 g (1 g saturated)
Fiber 2 g
Carbs 29 g
Sugars 14 g
Protein 20 g

New Workout Plan: AA Bikini Body!

At the beginning of December, I decided to buy the Amanda Adams AA Bikini Body program because I needed a new workout plan. I like having a schedule to follow at the gym, otherwise I tend to go and just do the same things or a random assortment of things. It’s a 12 week program, with totally doable workouts and a meal plan, which basically just outlines the calories you should be consuming per day (mine is 1900, so not depriving myself!) and the breakdown of nutrients (protein/carb/fat) to strive for. I’ve been using the MyFitnessPal app to help with this, and I like it because I can put in my own recipes to see the calorie and nutrient breakdown! I am now in Phase 2 of the workouts and love it so far. I can feel and see my muscles getting stronger, and I am sore as I am typing this!

The program was designed by Amanda Adams, a fitness model, and Ander Wilson, a nutritionist. How cute are they??

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Check out Amanda’s website here; I promise you will become obsessed with her. Because besides having an awesome FIT body, she is also extremely down to earth and advocates for a normal approach to eating and working out. Not some insane program where you drink powders for meals and workout 7 days a week, but one that is actually realistic! That’s what I like about the program; the workouts are very do-able with a busy schedule, the calories per day are totally reasonable, and she encourages girls not to deprive themselves of dessert/alcohol/the foods you love! She also does blog posts on her site as well as posts regularly on Facebook and Instagram. If you can’t tell, I love the program, her philosophy on life, and the fact that she is so real about everything. I am in no way affiliated with her or the program (I wish…) but I like to share things that work for me in regards to fitness and nutrition, just in case others are interested as well. 🙂

I am also happy to report that 2015 has been awesome so far! I’ve been hanging out with friends and our new dog, I booked a vacation to South and North Carolina for March, and am really taking time to appreciate all that I have in life. Looking forward to seeing what else 2015 has to offer!

DietBet’s 30 Day Weight Loss Challenge and Going Paleo!

Lose Weight, Win Money with FITNESS Maga...

While I was reading Fitness magazine at the gym yesterday I came across a blurb about the DietBet challenge. Basically, Fitness made a “team” where you can join for $30 and compete with others to lose 4% of your body weight over 30 days. If you are one of the “winners” who can lose the 4%, you split the total pot with the other winners. I thought this sounded like a fun idea, so I checked out the website today. My first thought was “well, everyone could just cheat about their weight loss,” but it turns out they have a system for verifying your weight: at your first and final weigh-in, you send them two photos: one of you on the scale and the other of the scale showing your weight with a code word next to it, basically to verify it is you. I love the idea of social weight loss/healthy eating (probably why I have a blog!); I really think that having a network of people with the same goals, even though they don’t know you, can really help motivate you and keep you going. And in this case, there’s money at stake…it puts you in the mindset of “I don’t want to lose $30, so I sure as hell better lose that 4%!” If you do “win,” you also have the potential to make money (and most do); the site says that worst case scenario, you get the $30 back and lost weight for free, which is a win in my book! So I signed right up and I am excited to take this challenge…it starts Sept. 9 and goes until October 6.  Anyone want to join me? It’s only 30 days, should be easy right?

The truth is, this won’t be easy! I wanted to sign up because I wanted to challenge myself, no matter if I “win” or not. I really think this can help me work towards my goal of “abs for my birthday,” as well as improve my health overall. In general I’m not really looking to lose weight, but I think having this goal will help me eat better, exercise harder, and be more committed, which will result in both weight loss and a flatter stomach (fingers crossed!) So, how do I do it??

I am thinking of doing Paleo for the 30 days and committing to it 100%, no slip ups. Obviously this is easier said than done. But I think being part of the challenge (and betting money on it) will help me stick with it. I hope! I also have been wanting to try Paleo for awhile, so this will be the perfect chance. I just have to remember: It’s only 30 days. My health is so much more important than that tempting bite of a cookie or slice of pizza. Do I want to eat those things? Of course. But I also know that I need to strengthen my willpower to say no. Every thing you put into your mouth is by choice; no one is forcing you. Once you can tell your brain that, you can truly make a change. That’s what I’m working towards now, and I think this 30 day challenge will really help kick start a new health journey in my life.

So I have 17 days until Sept. 9, which gives me plenty of time to prepare. I have been reading into the Paleo basics a lot recently, and definitely the hardest parts will be no dairy, no grains, and no legumes. I tried the no dairy thing in May (and failed miserably…) but I think my downfall was that instead of replacing most dairy, I just removed it. My salads without feta just aren’t the same! Therefore, going into this challenge I will switch up my meals a bit. I think I will have salads as a side dish rather than a meal, and focus on proteins with a great sauce. I also think no grains will be tough…I love my morning peanut butter and banana sandwich! Speaking of which, I won’t be able to have peanut butter…although luckily, I can have almond butter. This feels overwhelming right now, but I have time to prepare some meal ideas and substitutions before Sept. 9. Better get started…

Here are some articles I found helpful (as an extreme beginner just looking for ideas:

5 Painless Ways to be a (Paleo) Social Butterfly (since social situations are my downfall!)

Whole 30 Program (basically outlines what you can/can’t eat when going completely Paleo for 30 days, no slip ups! And google images of the before and after…)

Caramelized Coconut Chips recipe (and basically all recipes on her site!)

I know this was a long-winded post, but I hope that everyone can help encourage me during the 30 days. I also hope that I see results that inspire me to keep this up long-term, although possibly a little less strictly. I just need to make it through 30 days! Who’s in with me? 🙂 It would be great to have a buddy (besides Pinterest of course)!

New Changes for Me and the Blog!

Ta da…my blog can now be found at sequinsandsushi.com! No more long link to find it 🙂 I finally bought the domain so now it will be much easier to share the link and also no one else can take the name, yay! However, all of the old links to sequinsandsushi.wordpress.com will still be directed here, which makes it so easy. I’m so excited!

Thanks to Jess, I have also now become a Blue Diamond Tastemaker, which means I can sign up for projects involving certain products of theirs (almonds, almond milk, crackers, etc.) and write a blog post about them. In exchange for the blog post, they send me the products free; I can choose to put them in any recipe I would like! Currently all of the projects are full but I am hoping to do a sponsored post soon. Check out Jess’s post using Blue Diamond vanilla almonds to make banana nut bread muffins!

I also started a new workout regimen this week (titled Time for a Change…how fitting!) that I had pinned on Pinterest awhile back. Let me just say, I am hobbling around like an old person right now. It hurts just to sit on the toilet, but no pain no gain, right?? On Wednesday I did “Monday” and yesterday I did “Tuesday”, and since I work at the bar tonight this will have to be one of the “take it easy” days…but I usually do a lot of running around at work, so I won’t necessarily be taking it easy! I like that it can be customized to each person’s weekly routine, and it also allows you to choose your own ab exercises and cardio, so you can try to improve each week. I like having a structured “plan”, otherwise I end up just doing a bunch of random things at the gym. The soreness makes me believe it’s working so far!

I also found a few good articles on the My Fitness Pal blog: this one about how to eat well while on vacation (probably should have read that before my trip…) as well as this one about the importance of having a treat day/meal/snack every once in awhile. If you deprive yourself of something, you will eventually snap and binge on it. I think of the times when I “cheat” and order a meal/dessert that is fried/unhealthy; usually after having just a few bites I realize I don’t want it anymore, but by telling myself I couldn’t have it, I just made myself crave it even more and I’ll eat the whole thing. Thinking ahead and planning for these treats can allow you to enjoy something you love without going overboard. Also, by not letting yourself have treats as often, they become something you look forward to!

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement. So far so good towards my goal and I’m excited to see how far I can push myself.

Vacation Recap and New Goals

Hello everyone! I had a great week in South Carolina with my brother, sister, and brother-in-law…I enjoyed lots of sunshine, shopping, drinks, food, and relaxation time. But reality hit quick and it’s back to work for me…just wanted to share a few pictures from my week away!

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Greeted by palm trees upon arrival 🙂

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First beer of the trip: a hef at Gordon Biersch

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Great brewery tour at New South in Myrtle Beach!

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Beer time!

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Up close and personal with some sharks at the aquarium!

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Broadway at the Beach!

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Feeding the fox squirrel- indigenous to SC!

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And of course…sushi

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Family 🙂

 

And now, for a long-winded explanation of my new goal…abs by my 25th birthday! According to the new countdown on my phone, I have 279 days…sounds easy right? I wish!

So the goal: flat stomach/six-pack (hey I would even take a one-pack) by my 25th birthday. You may be wondering, isn’t this every girls goal? Doesn’t everyone want this? The truth is, that’s probably true, but for me that’s the one thing I haven’t achieved yet and I really want to get serious about this goal. Post-college I learned to eat well, exercise often, and lose weight the healthy way. But even at my lowest weight (132 last summer), I never had a flat stomach or any stomach muscle (that was visible anyways); I’ve always had fat there. And the truth is, I know that if I put in the hard work I can remove that. I just need to become even more dedicated than I have been thus far!

I just returned from a vacation, during which I put a lot of thought into my typical vacation mindset: eat what you want, drink what you want, don’t workout, all because you’re on “vacation” away from the norm. I tend to have the same mindset when it comes to birthday parties, nights out with the girls, date night, etc. But think of how many of those events happen each year! If you totally let go of your health goals each time, you will never get anywhere. Which is why I feel like as much as I eat healthy and exercise, I don’t look as toned and fit as I want to. I need to put my goals first and learn to enjoy myself without sacrificing my hard work.

You may ask, how are you going to do this? What are you going to change? Those who know me (or just read my blog) know that I eat well. They see me eating salads for lunch and posting healthy recipes here and on Instagram.  They know I am starting my master’s to become a registered dietitian. But…they also know that I won’t pass down a trip for ice cream. Or a dinner out to catch up with friends. Or a night out where I can down my fair share of beer/Jack. And as much as I love all those things, I realize that I have started to do them much more often (especially since it’s summer) which has caused me to sacrifice some of my health goals. I bust my ass in the gym 5-6 days a week just to waste it at multiple points during the week. Something needs to change!

What is my solution to this? Am I going to stop going out with friends and deprive myself of all treats in life? No! But I need to really stop treating “going out” as a “break” from nutrition and health. There is a way to eat out with friends while still eating healthy. You can still have drinks with friends without drinking a whole 6 pack in a day. The biggest problem I have is self control. When I go out I instantly think of what looks good and often order it without stopping myself to think about what will be a healthy yet delicious choice. Then I eat something deliciously unhealthy, regret it, and repeat it again. I also worry about what friends will say if they see me trying to order a healthy option while they all enjoy pizza, burgers, etc. You don’t want to be the odd man out!

The best way to survive these types of situations is to allow yourself to have a little bit of a treat without derailing your health goals. Have a bite of someone’s fries, order a kid sized ice cream, order a drink and a water at the same time and drink both slowly while socializing. Now, this is clearly easier said than done, especially for me. But I am now making the conscious decision to become more serious about my goals and hoping I can use these tips and tricks to help me accomplish it.  There is a definite way to keep your goals in mind while still enjoying yourself; you just need to remind yourself to put your goals first. If they are important to you, it won’t be hard to balance them with your career and social life.

I know this was a long-winded description of why I set a flat-stomach goal for myself and how I wish to work towards it. My hope is that by explaining this, my friends, family, and the online community can help encourage me to keep going. I plan to share my struggles through this so that others can help me! Any suggestions- eating, exercising, navigating social situations- are welcome!

And with that…happy hump day!

Transformation Tuesday: Dirty Girl Mud Run Edition

My fellow dirty girl’s thoughts on our mud run!

Rookie Running Life

This past weekend was filled with fun, especially since my two best friends and I were running our second Dirty Girl Mud Run, a down-and-dirty 5k obstacle course filled with mud, rocks, grime, and all things mother nature.

It was a great day for the race – sunny, but not too hot and humid. We lucked out there. We entered the 10:30 wave, which seemed to be a popular option since some obstacles had us waiting in line to complete – such as the “Get Over Yourself” wall climb. But my friends and I made the most of our wait, catching up on life while dancing to some of the music blaring from the speakers.

According to my friend Lisa’s Fitbit (by the way, you MUST check out her blog here), we burned over 400 calories while having a great time. I must admit though, it took a…

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